Vitalik Buterin, the co-founder of Ethereum, donated USDC $ 4million through his Balvi Filantropic Fund to the University of New South Wales in Australia. He hopes to prevent global pandemics using the institute’s open-source artificial intelligence tool that gives alerts for pandemic early warning signals.
The funding will support the development of EPIWATCH. It’s an open-source intelligence tool (OSIT) developed by Professor Raina MacIntyre. The OSIT scans millions of publicly available online items such as social media platforms and breaking news stories, as well as early signals of epidemics. It zeros down on changes to “normal” reports about health concerns.
This tool is much quicker than waiting for information from doctors and laboratories. As such, the health authorities can formally investigate the early warnings. MacIntyre highlighted that their vision is to see if someone had detected the virus before it spread around the world. The professor explained that EPIWATCH, through AI and real-time open-source data, is not dependent on people making reports. He described it as a great equalizer that has the potential to overcome weak health systems and censorship.
MacIntyre said EPIWATCH needs to be accessible in local languages in order to be most effective. The tool will also be used widely at the grassroots level down to villages and small towns around the world. It will give the best prospect of preventing pandemics.
Buterin said the earlier new epidemics can be detected, the more quickly treatments can be developed or stopped from becoming prevalent. He believes that open analysis of public data is an excellent alternative to more intrusive forms of monitoring which is closed to the public at large. The Ethereum co-founder pointed out that an open-source and open-access approach allows researchers to work collaboratively across the world. Moreover, it can be more easily improved and scaled to detect new pandemics wherever it begins.